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Investigator asks for two more days to hold suspects in infant’s treatment

A  detective has requested a court in Machakos to allow him detain three suspects linked to the death of a seven- month old  baby at the Shalom Hospital over the weekend in order to finalize investigations into the case.

The  three, Vincent Njau Nganga, Irene Katete Mutinda and Odhiambo Kennedy were arrested on Monday after Machakos Governor, Dr. Alfred Mutua and a team of medics investigating the Sunday incident ordered the hospital closed after a family lost  their son in the hands of the staff on allegations that he had been given an overdose of morphine injection.

Yesterday,  Peter  Wafula an officer attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation asked Senior Resident
Magistrate (SRM), Irene Kahuya to be allowed to hold the suspects until May 9 to enable investigators complete their investigations.

In  his  report, Wafula  says that  the trio  was on duty  on  the  fateful day and have been positively been identified as  the ones  who  attended to the baby.

According  to  the Investigating Officer’s  report, it  was Nganga  who prescribed  for the morphine treatment and procedures  to be administered while Mutinda identified only as a ‘nurse’ went ahead and administered the jab which is believed to have been 20 times more than the recommended dose.

It is this jab which is believed to have killed the infant.

Odhiambo  who  is  a  pharmaceutical technologist at the facility is said to have recommended the use of the morphine injection  as they had run out of the syrup.

Later, Njau  changed  the  prescribed morphine syrup to a morphine injection a move which Prof. Fredric  Were a Pediatrician and Lecturer at the University of Nairobi has described as ill-advised.

Prof. Were, who was leading a team that was carrying out investigation into the incident said morphine is usually
administered as a last line drug in relieving acute pain and should not have been given to the baby.

In her ruling, Kahuya allowed Police to continue detaining the suspects until Thursday when they will be

arraigned again in court to take plea.

Meanwhile, a postmortem analysis on what led to the death of the baby has revealed that he succumbed due to respiratory depression.

A preliminary autopsy report released yesterday evening by three pathologists who performed the postmortem on the body at the Montenzuma and Monalisa funeral home in Machakos concluded that the baby’s brain was swollen.

“Based on the primary autopsy that we have carried out on baby Ethel’s body, we were all in agreement that he had a swollen brain which can suppress breathing, and or intoxication due to alleged drug overdose,” said the lead Pathologist, Daniel  Zuriel while addressing the press yesterday.

Dr. Zuriel  similarly  said samples of body fluids and tissues had been extracted from the body for further toxicological tests  at  the Government chemist to ascertain the concentration of the alleged overdose of medicine was used on the baby prior to his death.

“We have also extracted, removed his brain and preserved it for further analysis and specialized tests to ascertain what may have led to the swelling. The specimen for all the samples taken have also been handed over to the investigating officer to facilitate the chain of custody,” Dr. Zuriel added.

The pathologists further disclosed that there was evidence of reduced circulation of oxygen on the infant’s respiratory organs as well as evidence of two and a half centimeter burn on his left arm.

The doctors said a conclusive report will be released after the analysis of the toxicological tests.

On  Monday, Governor Alfred Mutua  withdrew the business license of Shalom hospital following the incident which also attracted the intervention of Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists board which also stripped the hospital of its practicing license.

The hospital’s proprietor, George Onyango and six other staff implicated in the botched treatment were also arrested and locked up at Machakos police station.

By  Samuel  Maina/Lydia  Mueni

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